There’ll soon be a new squadron of drones flying over San Luis Obispo County helping the Sheriff’s Department in its efforts to keep residents safe.
The Sheriff’s Department asked County Supervisors for permission to spend some $22,200 of a Homeland Security grant to buy three more “unmanned aircraft systems” (drones) as part of a December 2018 approval to buy an initial drone paid for out of a $29,600 DHS grant.
“Since the original approval,” reads a staff report from Sheriff Ian Parkinson, “the Sheriff’s Office requested and were approved by California Office of Emergency Services [Cal OES] to purchase up to eight unmanned aircraft systems, dependent on the final cost of each unmanned aircraft.”
The department put out a request for proposals and chose a bid for three additional drones at $7,400 each for a total of $22,200, and eating up the rest of the initial $29,600 grant.
Drones have been getting increased usage by law enforcement, as they have proved valuable in search and rescue incidents to look for lost people, and with street demonstrations to hover high above the crowd and be an “eye-in-the-sky” for police.
Drones are another arrow in the quivers of police departments, much like police dogs.
Police dogs were initially a luxury in police departments but have been acknowledged as valuable tools in many law enforcement situations. From sniffing out drugs and explosives to chasing down and assisting in the apprehension of fleeing suspects, police dogs, called “K-9 units” in most agencies, have become increasingly ingrained in police work and have also gone to war with U.S. troops overseas.
And the price of a specially trained police dog is about $8,000 (for just the animal), making their costs comparable to drones, minus of course the cost of specialty patrol cars, food and vet bills.